The Internet Marketing Scams Costing Local Businesses Thousands
As the founder of a marketing agency that cares about helping businesses and providing ROI (return on investment) to their clients, it’s infuriating to see the landscape of certain aspects of digital marketing. Specifically, the number of scams occurring. On a weekly, if not daily basis, we receive inquiries from business looking to get on the top of Google or looking for advice to better reach their customers on social media.
Those calls or lead submissions are great because that’s what we do! The problem is, that once the discussion begins about retainers or statements of work, the conversation shifts. So many of these businesses have fallen for the “get you on the top of Google” scam or the \$99/month social media management companies.
This is becoming more and more familiar to us here at Blue Water Marketing, so we want to try to help bring more awareness to the questions of “what is digital marketing” or “I can get the same service for $100/month, why should we go with you?”
With that being said, I, Chris Marrano vow to help bring more awareness to these scams so that you have a better understanding of what they are, and what they promise. I am hoping that you will have enough understanding that you will be able to make a more educated decision moving forward. If you decide to try one, at least you will know that you’re taking a risk, as opposed to being so disappointed that you feel like you’ve been scammed.
This Scam alert will be focused on SEO. Jay, our SEO Wizard posts all the time about very detailed SEO information, but I’m going to dumb it down a little bit.
The Google Directory Scam
As business owners, we all know the companies that call, stating they are from Google and they’re telling you that you need to pay them to verify your Google business page. They are not Google, no one from Google will ever call unless you’re spending a lot of money on Google Ads.
It happens to us all of the time. I’m always baffled when they call a marketing company to tell us that we’re not verified or can’t be found on Google. We typically respond with the facts. We’re actually ranked #1 for many of our target keywords locally and even have a few national #1 spots. (that’s actually a picture of our Google Analytics). Don’t these guys do some research on who they call?
The truth is, they don’t. These companies are in sighting fear into the person on the other line as people know the importance of being on Google. They have generic scripts that make you interested because they promise you the top of Google and a verified page that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get unless you sign up with them.
I’m here to tell you that first and foremost, to get certified on Google, all you need to do is create a Google account, add your business and submit your address and then wait for the Google postcard with the verification password. That’s it! The verification by Google DOES NOT just disappear, either. I’ve heard from many companies that these call-centers try to upsell existing verified Google pages, by saying that you’re at risk of losing your verification. That’s impossible unless you move. If you move, just repeat the step of getting a new postcard.
You can do all of this for free! Google makes it very easy for the consumer to create a directory & get verified. If you’re interested in how to do this, let me know in the comments and I’ll create a video for you.
Additionally, there are so many videos on YouTube that will outline EXACTLY how to create a Google directory. This one will work to help you figure it out in an easy step-by-step process for you to follow.
Get You Ranked #1 Scam
As you have heard, everyone talks about SEO. The problem is, many people do not have the full details about what SEO or Search Engine Optimization really is. SEO is an in-depth process with many different aspects that need to be optimized, tweaked & updated to be efficient and have results.
Any company calling you telling you that they’re offering an SEO package for anything less than $750-$1,000 (for local SEO) is trying to spam you. SEO takes constant updates to websites with high-quality content (which is one of the reasons we write so many blogs and make so many videos & infographics).
We had a local business reach out to us stating that they signed a 6-month contract for $600/month and never heard back from this “SEO” company.
Don’t fall for it. It has taken us long days of research, improvements & content creation to get ranked for a handful of the keywords we’re targeting. You can see here, our rankings & we’d be more than happy to explain how we’ve done it!
When we create SEO packages, we show everything that needs to be done. We fix everything that we tell people we’re going to fix. Furthermore, to begin to rank, we create content around the editorial calendar that we’ve sent to our client for approval. We then create that content, post it and report on EVERYTHING.
If any SEO company is telling you they promise #1, they’re going to take your money. Figure out the details, ask about what content they’re going to create, what needs to be fixed on your site, get into the details, even if you have no idea what you’re talking about. I can promise you that they’re going to hesitate and tell you that they’re going to connect you to a manager or hang-up.
The Online Directory Listing Scam
This one is the most annoying out of any of them because we get the most of these. Online directories are important in Google’s eyes and ours as well. The problem is multi-faceted.
Directories are important if they’re the good ones! If you own a service business, Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Houzz, Angie’s List, they’re all great and are a positive aspect of any SEO campaign.
The companies calling you about hundreds of directories that you need to be on are useless and will actually negatively affect your website, they’re going to hurt you. Google is so good these days that it determines low-quality backlinks. You don’t want your site on every single directory, only the important ones that Google refers to as “high-quality”.
Client List Deception
Not sure if you’ve come across this form of deception yet, but we have. I’ll tell you a quick story that will shed some light on what I’m talking about.
We were tasked to run a pay-per-click audit for a potential client (that’s now a client). We ran the audit and determine a few things…
- The quality-score was a 1.0/10. Google had put an alert stating a number of the ads weren’t running due to the low-quality score.
- The “marketing company” was stating that there was a budget of X amount of dollars per day, but in reality, the marketing company was taking an extra $30/day and putting it in their pocket.
So, once we began to dig into this, we determined who the company was and looked at their client list. Remember, we’re located in South Florida, about 45 minutes north of West Palm Beach. This company had Global brands on their client list, including, IBM, Coca-Cola & a few other huge companies.
Don’t fall for this scam. We’re a small digital marketing company, most of our clients are small-to-medium sized businesses in our area. I’ve worked for huge companies at various agencies and companies, but that doesn’t mean they’re my client today. Just for proof, you can check out some of our clients here.
Try to find businesses that are fully transparent, ask for details in what exactly they’re going to do. If they get hung up on a question or if they try to pass you along to the next person, hang-up or ask to be put on their ‘do-not-call list’.
Please be sure to continue to check our blog for more information about digital marketing, so that you’re more aware when these people call.
Founder & CMO
Blue Water Marketing